We’re now in what used to be journalism’s “silly season,” so named because serious news tended to drop off in late summer, when people were still on vacation and school had not yet opened.

In the absence of meaningful events, editors sometimes filled out their newscasts or front pages with reports of crop circles or Loch Ness monster and UFO sightings (shark attacks seem to have overtaken them in recent years).

Silly things do happen in the summer. I remember working the city desk one hot summer night when a caller said he had seen a UFO. I replied that I wasn’t interested in a sighting, but if it landed and little green guys got out, he should call back.

Then there was the time a man saying he was Jesus Christ came in and said he (He?) wanted to be on TV, so I should tell him where the station was. I told him I knew he wasn’t Jesus, because if he were, he would already know how to find it. (That ended with a call to the cops.)

This year, though, serious news stories — and tragedies — abound. But there remain a few things, some major, some not, that seem to fit the season:

• Tim Tebow scored a touchdown for the Eagles on Sunday after being greeted with a standing ovation. (Will critics still spin snark about him if he proves he can play in the NFL? Yes, because it’s not really his playing they don’t like.)


Still, I’m not relinquishing my Terrible Towel to become a Philly Phanatic. One reason is Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who warmed my heart by tweeting, “I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies!”

He continued, “While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry (sic) for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…”

Recall that Yoda told the young Luke Skywalker, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Put another way, as the Army teaches, the right response to the question, “Why did you fail?” is, “No excuse, sir!”

No damn participation trophies, either.

• Using the infinite executive superpowers granted him when he was bathed in rays of left-wing radicalism during his youth, President Barack Obama has changed the oath of citizenship so that new citizens have the option not to pledge to bear arms in defense of America.


True, there always was an exemption for committed pacifists, but now, I guess disdain for the nation you want to adopt you is enough.

You could ask why we would accept citizens who don’t respect us, but how can a nation that would put up with this deserve any respect?

• In related news, Secretary of State John Kerry turned away briefly from his campaign to cave in to the Iranian ayatollahs to fly to Havana so he could pander to the Castro brothers. Representatives of persecuted dissident groups were not welcome at the formal capitulation ceremony, and to celebrate the occasion, the Castros rounded up a whole new bunch of political prisoners.

Where will the 2015 U.S. Surrender Tour (“Hands Up, Don’t Giggle”) go next? Kerry could get a warm welcome in Caracas, but potential stops also include Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang.

We’ll know for sure when the souvenir T-shirts go on sale.

• At the Iowa State Fair, Donald Trump was asked by a 9-year-old (who had just ridden on the Trumpcopter) if he was Batman.


“Yes, I am Batman,” The Donald told the kid, and the way the polls are going, he may be right.

Having him be the Republican candidate would be well short of optimal, but I’m not surprised he is riding a wave of popular revulsion at our incompetent (and sometimes rotten) leadership in both parties.

• Finally, it’s not silly at all that the Marines want to discharge a U.S.-based officer who sent a single classified message to a friend in Afghanistan using an unsecured device. (It was a warning about an unreliable Afghan “ally,” but it was ignored and three soldiers were killed).

Meanwhile, the number of Hillary Clinton’s private emails with potentially classified information has grown to 302, two of them said to be “Top Secret.”

And the “mom and pop” computer firm Hillary hired to store her private server (it’s now in the FBI’s hands) apparently never was granted a security clearance.

No wonder some people are asking: Is orange the new pantsuit?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. Email at: [email protected].

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